As Surfing prepares for its historic debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the positive, reverberating effects of the sport’s inclusion have been felt around the world, particularly in Asia and Oceania.
Both continents showed marked development and growth of Surfing, seen by the successes of a string of continental and region Championships at the end of 2019: the Southeast Asian Games, the Oceania Cup, and the Asian Surfing Championships.
Surfing’s debut in the South East Asian Games marked another landmark moment for the sport’s inclusion in Olympic Movement multisport events.
Six countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, competed November 30 – December 8, 2019 in San Juan, Philippines.
Athletes contested four Gold Medals in Men’s and Women’s Shortboard and Longboard, with the local Filipinos and Indonesia taking two Gold Medals each.
Myanmar’s participation in the event comes just months after inclusion as the ISA’s 108th Member Nation, a historic moment as the first time surfers from Myanmar have represented their nation in an international event.
The Oceania Cup was held in Samoa November 23-30, 2019, featuring six nations across the South Pacific.
In the eleventh edition of the event, Team Zealand emerged victorious, celebrating the rich history and spirit of surfing in the region.
With the Pacific Games to be held in Solomon Islands in 2023, the Oceania Cup could serve as a runway to inclusion in the event.
The inaugural Asian Surfing Championships were a landmark moment for the sport in Asia. Taking place November 17-23 in Shantou, China, the event featured the participation of ten nations: Afghanistan, China, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Maldives, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.
The Championship included the disciplines of Shortboard, Longboard, and StandUp Paddle (SUP), a particularly important development in the ISA’s drive to develop SUP around the globe. Notably, Iran’s Faezeh Bishehkolaei took first place in the Women’s 500m Inflatable SUP Race, a breakthrough performance for Iran and the sport as a whole.
2018 ISA World Junior Surfing Champion Keanu Kamiyama from Japan was a standout performer, earning Gold Medals in the Men’s Open and U-20 Shortboard Divisions.
China’s Huang Wei also put the rapidly developing talent of Chinese Surfing on display, earning first place in the Men’s Longboard Division.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“The effects of Surfing’s Olympic debut are resounding, and already seen in the developing surfing regions of the world. We are particularly focused and interested in bringing the joy of Surfing to non-traditional surfing nations, so it’s rewarding to see that our efforts have proven successful in countries such as Iran, Myanmar, China, and Samoa, to name a few.
“While Olympic Surfing will only feature 40 of the world’s best surfers, the dream is alive within the millions of youth that practice our sport, and it’s only getting bigger as we approach Tokyo 2020.”
The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Para Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men’s and Women’s World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012; and World Para Surfing Champions in 2015.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Federations of 108 countries on five continents. The ISA is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (ARG). The Executive Committee includes four Vice-Presidents Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL), Athletes’ Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA), Regular Members Atsushi Sakai (JPN) and Jean Luc Arassus (FRA) and ISA Executive Director Robert Fasulo as Ex-officio Member.
Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California (USA).